British Airways’ Brilliant New India Ad

As much as I’m sometimes not thrilled with the flights I take with British Airways, their marketing is brilliant. Perhaps my favorite such example is British Airways’ “Visit Mum” campaign from 2013, which made me cry:

I just watched it again (for maybe the hundredth time), and my eyes were watery again. It’s touching and brilliant, andĀ creates such a positive perception of the brand without even feeling like an advertisement. Because it’s not the airline’s services as such that they’re advertising, but rather that you should visit your mom. And then once you’re watery-eyed they gently remind you that British Airways probably flies to mom. šŸ˜‰

Well, British Airways is back with another ad campaign, once again focused on India. It’s called “British Airways: Fuelled My Love,” and here’s the description:

Our journey in India began in 1924. Weā€™ve grown together, soared great heights and touched the skies. Yet the bond grows stronger. See how a British Airways crew member falls in love with India and forms a deep bond with India that is #fuelledbylove.

Here’s the video:

Now, any British Airways video involving India has huge shoes to fill after the “Visit Mum” campaign, so I came in skeptical. While the ad isn’t quite to the level of the “Visit Mum” one, it’s still absolutely lovely. It feels a bit more staged than the previous video, butĀ it still manages to have a genuine message, andĀ you’ll probably either laugh or cry during the video, or probably both.

Bottom line

Fundamentally the beauty of airlinesĀ isn’t that they offer flat beds or caviar & champagne, but rather that they connect people around the world. People with different stories, circumstances, and backgrounds. Kudos to any airline which can capture thatĀ in an ad as brilliantly as British Airways does.

(Tip of the hat to @livingfire83)

Comments

  1. Ben, I thought you would ask at the end “have you ever had a flight attendant visit you after the flight? How was the experience?” šŸ˜‰

  2. This is a great ad, but obviously completely staged. Nevertheless, awesome job by whoever was in charge of the production on this ad series.

  3. @Alvin

    I didn’t notice that but the plane taking off from the runway at 0:53 is without a doubt, a 787-9.

  4. Yes brilliant ad (AI take lesson from BA), however I do honestly think whether this level of hospitality and love happens in reality, especially Indians traveling on British Airways or Air France, sure there could’ve been a few pleasant flights but there have been some really bad experiences for desi travellers.

  5. As an Indian, I would never fly BA. Mostly because of the racist attitude of most BA attendants towards Indian fliers. I have experienced the same less-than-excited attitude that BA dishes out when dealing with first-class Indian passengers at LHR, but seen a 180 twist when dealing with other nationalities on the same class-fare seats. Most Indians I have spoken to share the same attitude. I live in NYC, and the only way for me to redeem AA miles would be through BA. I would never do that, but rather pay cash to fly on the other ME airlines or Air India to fly me to the Indian sub-continent. No matter what ad they bring out, I don’t think BA deserves a second chance. And that’s not a good thing when most of the 1.3 billion who can fly hate BA!

  6. BA’s service is stellar (unless Lucky is onboard – hah!), their marketing is genius – their catering is good enough – but Club World has to be the worst lie-flat J seat that’s ever existed.

  7. @Mileage Man @George – I hadn’t flown BA since 2003 and finally gave them another chance in 2014 and again 2015 for US – India trips via LHR.

    Quick thoughts:
    + Staff is extremely pleasant to Indians now
    + Better Indian food than most other airlines
    + Lounge at DEL is unbelievably good – private room for CW and F pax with one lounge attendant per 3 pax – everything delivered to your seat.
    + Only flights for leaving DEL in the daytime (11:10 AM departure) means you don’t have to overnight if you don’t want to. That being said, if in CW/F and you can actually sleep, the 3:40 AM departure is too late and still messes up your sleep.
    – Fares are rarely competitive even with AARP discount and Chase BA 10%. Only made sense for me as OW Elite due to increased mileage earning, free exit row seat selection, lounge access, etc.

    I really think the big issue is that BA is not fare competitive and outside of F, I don’t view BA as a premium airline. CW is behind where other airlines are. WTP is old and yucky. WT is similarly disgusting – especially on the 747s.

  8. @Stu totally agree. And FWIW, I’ve flown with Indian colleagues many times in J and F on BA and the crew have been equally friendly and warm to all of us. So I’m sorry to hear your experience has been different, George.

  9. George, be wary of making that kind of comment on this blog. You’ll get nasty and angry replies from aviation fanboys and privileged first class fliers who will call you a liar and a race-baiter for sharing a perspective and experience that is unique to you and to your background. “But it never happened to me, so you’re lying! How dare you lie!”

    As for me? I’d rather fly Emirates. On Asian airlines, everyone is treated equally. On Euro airlines, only a certain demographic gets treated well. In reality, the surly blondes and brunettes of BA don’t give a damn about the ‘others’. Besides, why would I contribute a cent to the UK? If 1.3 billion Indians boycotted British products and starved the beast, perhaps BA might actually learn to treat us well then.

  10. @George – maybe you should spend 5 minutes doing some actual research rather than spewing mindless drivel. From NYC you can redeem AA miles on AA, BA, QR, EY, AY, and even 9W to India. Unbelievable how incapable people are of doing basic research these days.

  11. Thanks for sharing these videos. Perfect timing for me. I went on a business trip to Delhi in October 2015. It was my first trip to India and I have been back one more time since then. Both times I have flown on Qatar Airways and love the service so it was hard for me to consider any other oneworld airline. I’m going back next month and just booked my tickets a few days ago. This time I’m taking BA and honestly wasn’t looking forward to it as much because the hard and soft product don’t seem nearly as nice as QR. But after seeing these videos I’m exciting about flying to India on BA.

  12. That is exactly what draws me to India again n again! Your life changes once you go to India. I have never had one experience similar to another! All have been completely different, surreal and mind blowing. I am so privileged that my work takes me to India so often and I get to experience different things every time. I don’t think one lifetime is enough to see India completely due to its vastness and diversity!
    Been to Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Rajastan, Tamil Nadoo, Kerala, Manali, Punjabh and Simla.. and have so much more to see! Just amazing to see how each and every place is completely different and yet their hospitality remains the same everywhere

  13. BA is looking after its most profitable market; primarily from J and F passengers connecting to/from the US.

  14. @John – That experience you described is the true beauty of India. Every state is a different culture, food, language but the mannerism is the same. Apart from poverty, transit quality and clean streets, India is exactly what the European Union aspires to be, where every existing European country becomes a state and governed as such.

  15. Nice Bollywood production after failed attempt in 2013. That guy was overtly aggressive in hugging and kissing mom, which tells me it was done by a British producer. It appears BA at least consulted Indian producers.

    It is nice BA able to make money with a premium heavy 787 to a secondary city in India. Proves LH and KL were wrong. HYD being EK’s #1 for USA traffic, it is good to see some one is trying to compete.

    Having said that, this story/theme is lifted from airliners.net trip report “Air India AI 102: 14/FEB/08: JFK-DEL: Y Cabin”.

    Read para two of section e) Crew.

    http://bit.ly/23JdYHw

  16. The most beautiful thing about India is that 1.3 billion people self organized to say we want someone elected to lead us. And 1.3 billion people every few years vote and change government peacefully. Every one gets one vote. When Indians go to war it is to preserve a democracy not to protect an oligarch, dictator or politburo

    No other place today or in history has ever done that. Other countries when given the freedom to choose have devolved into civil wars. You have to appreciate the beauty of this. That is the best thing about India.

  17. I love traveling to India; especially during Holi…. This winter was my 37th time to see the Republic Day parade.

    Never flew there on BA though – this ad almost makes me want to..but almost is the key word considering the bad service experiences in the past…and the shoddy quality of the fleet in general

  18. @John

    Couldn’t agree more with you.Been living there for four (almost five now) years and my family and I are still discovering new and amazing things daily. I think it’s the people who draw us most though – the common man on the street is really willing to share his story if you just go and talk to him and show him respect.

    Wonderful country despite all of the inconveniences that one has to deal with – but India is changing at a rapid rate.

  19. I left my home at the age of 16 to pursue my dreams and higher education in the States. I hear the loneliness in my mother’s, father’s, and grandmother’s voices daily when I talk to them on the phone each morning. The greatest joy I experience is when I walk into my home and see my mom waiting for me to have dinner with me (trans-Atlantic flights arrive during the night/early morning in DEL) each year. Then, my grandmother comes out to see me and when my dog was alive, he would run out and greet me as if I had never left. The greatest joy is in coming back home – it’s where one belongs. The biggest heart-breaking moment is the night before I have to leave again… and the cycle continues each year.

    I almost want to purchase BA tickets right now to see my parents – but I think I will get AI instead šŸ˜‰

  20. “Our journey to India began in 1924″…they forgot to add “…when we ruled over India and our airline helped supply the occupying armies and bring back the loot (*).”

    Probably Indians who could afford to fly them had to sit in the back of the plane.

    (*) Incidentally “loot” is a word taken from Hindi.

  21. Actually, I change my mind – I would love to fly BA (even if it is through LHR, one of the most mind-boggling transit experiences in the world) if I can meet this “Helena” just to thank her. I know how worried I am when my parents are flying (even after their forty years of traversing the globe as diplomats) – I’m always wondering are they comfortable, are they safe, are they being looked after – so I do admire this character who plays in this remake of the true story and would love to meet her.

  22. @David,

    Actually I found the 787-9 (even the 787-8 although it does not have the turbulence dampening system) to be extremely smooth, especially when we were testing the aircraft for qualification at a flight altitude of 430 in comparison to other aircraft. The A380 is generally also smooth given its mass and momentum but the 787-9 still provides lower vertical variation, as long as it can reach its recommended operating altitude of 400 and higher.

  23. @ Mileage Man – That is a very interesting perspective. I never thought of it that way.

    But now that I think about it, both India and Europe were united for the first time ever in the BCE era – with India’s Maurya Empire being formed in 322 BCE, and Europe’s Roman Empire being formed in 27 BCE. There is definitely a precedence for the unification of Europe, and it is curious why India went the way of a united geographical entity from that point onwards while Europe fractured into various nation-states that can barely gel with each other in the EU. Both entities had unifying languages (Sanskrit vs Latin) and a unifying civilisational thread (Hinduism vs Christianity – I refuse to say ‘religion’ because Hinduism is not a ‘religion’) – so it is puzzling why they diverged so much. Perhaps Europeans tend to fight more amongst themselves?

  24. @K Have you looked at a map of India before the British came? It was filled with nation states that still that morphed with wars and exist sometimes uncomfortably side by side in the present day. I have no idea where you get “unified geographical entity”.

  25. I saw the latest ad on my social media feed and loved it. So simple and refreshing from the trendy, fast ads. Thanks for sharing the “Visit Mum” ad, I hadn’t seen it before.
    Great marketing, BA knows to pull the heart strings as they can’t really shine the light on the hard product (say Club World) compared to other leading airlines.

  26. @K

    Interesting observation and also an interesting rebuttal by Gaurav. Just a note, India had two major languages; Dravidian and Sanskrit (Indo-Aryan). Similarly the three major languages across Europe consisted of Latin, the West and East Germanic languages. In both cases, there was not a single unifying language.

    Also, while I understand what you mean as Hinduism not being a religion as much as a philosophy, I think the fact that deities are worshiped classifies it as a religion as opposed to let’s say Buddhism, which is at conflict with the notion of a personal deity or unifying creator.

  27. Gaurav: You might want to take a look at the map again. Prior to the arrival of the British, India was federated into two separate entities by two separate empires: the native Hindu Maratha Empire, and the foreign Muslim Mughal Empire. The British took over the two (forcefully) and combined them into one unit. So, no, it wasn’t really a rag-tag bunch of isolated states. India has always been federated in some way or the other ever – by both natives and foreigners – ever since the emergence of the Mauryas in 322 BCE.

    As for your claim that Indians of various backgrounds coexist ‘uncomfortably’ today, I don’t know where you got that from. India has its hiccups just any other nation in the world, but Indians are some of the most patriotic people in the world and the sense of national unity from Kashmir in the North to Kanyakumari in the South is extremely strong. No-one with the exception of the Pakistani wannabe Kashmiri Muslims identifies as anything other than Indian. Give your nation the credit it deserves sometimes ā€“ it is a success story of immense proportions, especially given the circumstances, but many of us fail to see that.

    Jared – Do you think the EU could ever federate into an actual country with a similar arrangement to India or is nationalism in each individual European state far too strong for that to happen?

  28. “Fundamentally the beauty of airlines isnā€™t that they offer flat beds or caviar & champagne, but rather that they connect people around the world.”

    hahaha….but aren’t you only obsessed with the former?

  29. @K I give India plenty of credit but being patriotic does not equal being blind. Here is an article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_princely_states_of_India) about how many princely states there were in India. The British did not create these–they simply recognized them because it made it much easier to rule the country without having to directly administer the entire population. I think the Rajputs, Sikhs, Nizams of the south amongst many others would have some strong words to say to your assertion that only the Mughal and Maratha states existed.

    You also need to brush up on what a federated state actually is. Maybe this will help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_state. At no point before the emergence of modern India did all the states work together in a cohesive fashion apart from alliances from time to time. If they had been able to do that, there is no way that the British would have been able to take over the country.

    With regards to your “foreign muslim empire”, I’m sure that you are fully aware that they displaced Indo-Germanic peoples who had come 10-20 centuries earlier and chosen to stay, driving Dravidians to the south. While your labeling is obvious, I’m not sure it is warranted. At which generation does someone stop being a “foreigner”? You’d be hard pressed to find someone who would not say Akbar was Indian.

    Re: discomfort? Are you serious? Ever been in Karanataka and Tamil Nadu when they fight over the waters of the Cauvery? What happens if anyone even thinks of considering a national language? The incessant factionalization of the country into ever more states based on linguistic and caste based schisms?

    None of this changes the fact that India is amazing in many ways and has plenty of strengths and potential but we don’t need to gild the lily.

  30. What on earth is a ‘Cauvery’? I have literally never heard or seen that word in my entire life. Don’t you mean Kaveri, or are you one of those desis who can’t get over the colonial hangover and ridiculous colonial names imposed on us by the British? The fact that you think the Aryan Invasion is still real, never mind the fact that it has been thoroughly disproved by modern archaeological research and anthropology, suggests that you might be an Indian liberal who supports warped foreign interpretations of our history promulgated by racialist historians like Max Muller.

    There definitely was intermixing in the north, but it certainly didn’t involve an ‘invasion’ by ‘Indo-Germanic’ people but rather an interaction between locals and ‘Indo-Aryans’ aka Avestan Iranians living practically next door. Nor were the Dravidians ‘displaced to the South’ ā€“ for there is absolutely zero evidence that that happened. I don’t even know why you’re even mentioning this because it has nothing to do with the subject matter, but I suspect it was because I called the Mughals foreign.

    They were indeed foreign rulers of Turko-Mongol origin. Islam isn’t native to India at all. Indian Muslims may be Indian today, but the Mughals certainly weren’t Indian. There is a clear difference. Furthermore, the Mughals are the ones who let the British in through the Muslim Nawab of Bengal while the various Hindu states that were federated under the Maratha Empire fought against the entry of the British. It could therefore be said that a certain level of unity existed amongst the real natives back then, but ended up being thwarted because the Mughals are the ones who sold the country out.

    The fact that India remained India instead of turning into the next white man’s land like America or Australia is proof that more unity and cohesion existed than you think it did. Do not rely on distorted foreign interpretations of your history.

  31. Now the only issue is third world grannies expect BA FAs to help them with socks. Looks like a candidate union grievance.

  32. @Indian

    I’m not sure why you would make a comment like that. Simple tasks can become difficult with age. Just hope that someone like that FA will be looking after your parents and family when they are flying and is when we get to that age. I know my grandmother has difficulties bending down so I help her with many simple tasks. Nothing to do with third world…

  33. @Jared

    Point I was trying to make was this ad sets false expectations for both passengers and flight attendants.

    Only winner is the model who is going to score heroine roles in few Indian movies and probably make $200,000 per movie. Good for her.

    What about real BA FAs, how are they going to deal with pax with false expectations.

    We now know this was a Bollywood production, where plagiarism is common practice and copyright means to copy the right (correct) way, not to value intellectual property.

    When producer/director says “Inspired by real story”, people jump to conclusion it is an experience of young BA FA on Indian route. It could be an experience of any FA of any airline on any sector.

    I am not saying young BA FAs are not caring toward senior citizens. Upper middle class and elite young women in India wouldn’t touch feet of elderly.

    There is a hint in Lucky’s LHR-DEL TR. The young AI FA’s main intentions may be to enjoy London layover, not to serve pax. On the other hand you may find very caring and service oriented young FAs on domestic AI flight. It all depends on their social status and upbringing.

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